Topeka Kansas Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss was admonished today by a disciplinary board, but escaped any further sanction for his discussion of school finance with two powerful legislators.
It is the first time in Kansas history that a state Supreme Court judge has been found in violation of the judicial ethics rules.
The Commission on Judicial Qualifications said Nuss violated three Canons of Judicial Conduct when he spoke with Sens. Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, about a school finance bill while school finance litigation was still pending before the court.
In its commentary, the commission said Nuss' meeting on March 1 "resulted in the appearance of impropriety which undermines public confidence in the judiciary ..."
Without comment, however, the commission decided against recommending that the Supreme Court consider disciplinary action against Nuss.
The commission's action amounts to a warning to Nuss not to violate the judicial code again.
Justice Lawton Nuss
More about Justice Lawton Nuss
- Nuss gets off with warning over school finance talk
- Nuss talks turn political
- Communication between governor's office and Kansas judicial branch (.pdf)
- Code of judicial conduct (.pdf)
- Rules relating to judicial conduct(.pdf)
- Justice Nuss' response to the allegations (.pdf)
- KSGovernor.org: Sebelius responds to wide-ranging open records requests
- Justice Lawton Nuss biography, from Kansas Supreme Court web site
- KSCourts.org: Recusal Statement
- School Finance Proposed Expenditures Comparison (.pdf)
- 6News video: Nuss controversy ends with questionable punishment
- 6News video: Nuss meeting descends to bickering
- 6News video: Committee begins interviews in Nuss affair (06-08-06)
- 6News video: Committee begins investigation into Nuss affair (05-25-06)
- 6News video: Kansas lawmakers determine school finance plan (05-02-06)
- House panel votes to expand Nuss probe (06-09-06)
- Senator from Lawrence declines to testify for now (06-09-06)
- Senator denies court contact before Nuss lunch (06-08-06)
- Nuss says he regrets meeting (06-02-06)
- Supreme Court justices at a glance (08-20-04)
- More about the 'Nuss Fuss'
- More about the school finance case